Foodies’ Tinder

More and more people are using mobile apps for everyday tasks such as booking a taxi, ordering food, etc. Developers are constantly creating new services to offer even more opportunities. Foodism app creator German Domansky spoke to Invest Foresight about how the service works and what it has to do with cats.

Finding a restaurant or a café nearby via a mobile phone is a piece of cake just as it is to order food delivery. But what if you want a specific meal (for example, crepes) or you are on a diet and watching your calorie intake? Of course, you could carefully study the menu of the nearest place. But it takes time and counting calories is also rather complicated.

St Petersburg-born German Domanskii graduated from The Hague University of Applied Sciences and returned to Russia where he first worked at a web design studio and later moved on to his own projects. Browsing the English-language segment of AppStore, he came across Entre, an app marketed as a “food Tinder.” The concept looked appealing to him and the young man decided to create a similar service for St Petersburg. On Entre, meals are grouped around restaurants and developers focused on food characteristics such as dish names, calorie count or customers’ rating. German decided it would be convenient if users could not only find restaurants that cook specific food but also apply various filters. This is how Foodism came about.

German developed the app’s design overnight. Technical features took slightly longer. App architecture and optimization was the most time-consuming part of the job. The initial capital of RUR 5 mio ($81K) was raised with the help of friends and acquaintances.

When German handed over his design to developers he was concerned that they might use his idea to create an identical product. So he changed the description and said that he wants to create a service for finding suitable cats in the city. Thanks to this precaution, the app turned out easily scalable.

The company has a small team consisting of a marketing director, a development director and a technical director. Everything else is outsourced.  

During the trial period, the restaurants were added to the search base for free. The team decided that the places that will join the project later will be charged a fee. Revenue is generated from promotion of certain meals. Using the app is free.

Foodism was launched in August 2017. At the time of the launch, the project already had partners among major local restaurants such as Ginza Project, Coffee Room Family, Moroshka Dlya Pushkina and others. Currently, over 400 St Petersburg cafés and restaurants are signed up.

The menu includes over 10K positions, each provided with a detailed description: its look, ingredients, calorie count and weight. For the pictures to be high quality and adhere to the same format, the developers do their own photography.

For restaurants, the service is free, but the owners can add new positions themselves, given that they meet the requirements for images. Customers can also add photos, which is mandatory when writing a review. All reviews are checked by the moderator. In order to promote food rating and writing reviews, the app offers a point system. Points are given for writing reviews and adding dishes that were not on the app. Points can be then exchanged for prizes: restaurant visits, concert tickets and Foodism merchandize.

The developers believe that the app will be useful for two groups of customers: first of all, those who usually eat out and like to try new foods. The other group is people who are visiting the city and looking for a place to eat.

The application is available on AppStore; the Android version will be released at the end of the first quarter of 2020. After the app is downloaded and launched, it will show all dishes that the user can taste within a 50-km area. The app also offers a filter, so that it is possible to search for steaks, for instance. The app will show a professional photo of the steak, its calorie count and price, as well as reviews and ratings by other customers. Thus, users will see which restaurant excels at a particular dish.

It is also possible that the user does not really care what to eat at the moment, but is more concerned about the price of the dish. In this case, they can filter by price. The geolocation filter will show the nearest places to eat. Then the customer can book a table and make an order. 

In order to make the app more interesting and to motivate people to use it more, the developers have come up with food quests. For instance, a customer is offered to try donuts at particular places or eat ten certain dishes within a time limit. If the user succeeds, they receive additional points.

The developers also offer a loyalty program and give points for writing reviews, booking tables, fulfilling food quests and making complaints. In addition, they are going to introduce elements of social networking so that customers could follow each other, see each other’s reviews, add them to their friend list and learn restaurants’ news.

The application is currently available in St Petersburg only. However, plans call for entering the Moscow and European markets. The founders are currently looking for additional funding to tweak the monetization mechanism and to offer the app to the customers beyond St Petersburg.

By Christina Firsova

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